November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a vital role in diabetes care. Meet Emma Ueffing, Elizabeth Arbour and Lise Belliveau (left to right), Registered Dietitians at the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care (CCDC).
What does it take to be a Registered Dietitian (RD)?
RDs have a university degree in human nutrition and dietetics from an accredited university program plus a 1-year supervised practical training (internship) program. It will take about five years to finish all education and training.
What inspired you to work in diabetes care?
Food and nutrition can have as much of an impact on diabetes outcomes, if not more than many medications. It provides the opportunity for patients to have a role in managing their diabetes through choices they make on a daily basis.
What is unique about your role?
Our role is unique for a few reasons. First, the CCDC operates as an inpatient and outpatient service. Therefore, you have opportunity to follow patients throughout their journey through health care. Second, the CCDC has a network of health professionals that work closely as an interdisciplinary team to provide patient care. Finally, in addition to being registered dieticians, we are also Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), or are working towards it, which means we can provide more than nutrition education and counselling. We can speak to our patients about anything diabetes related.
How does your role impact patient care?
It is natural for patients to have questions about what to eat and it is often the first of many questions after a new diagnosis. A dietitian is key to helping those with diabetes navigate the ever-changing diet and nutrition industry with evidenced based, practical suggestions. We work with patients to develop and individualized nutrition care plan to meet their needs
Promoting a healthy lifestyle is part of your daily messaging to patients. Do you have any personal tips on how to stay healthy?
Try to find balance. Healthy living doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Create sustainable changes that you can stick with that still allow you to enjoy special occasions. Also, try to fit movement into your day wherever possible. We always try to take the stairs and walk on our lunches – rain or shine!